ESG Reporting Essentials – Your Guide to ESG Reporting in Singapore

ESG Reporting Essentials – Your Guide to ESG Reporting in Singapore

ESG Reporting Essentials – Your Guide to ESG Reporting in Singapore

In Singapore, ESG reporting is rapidly becoming a norm amongst businesses, driven by heightened investor and consumer interest in sustainability and ethical practices. For listed companies, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) introduced a phased approach to mandatory climate reporting on a ‘comply or explain’ basis, based on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (“TCFD”). From 2027 fiscal year, large non-listed companies with annual revenue of at least SGD 1 billion and total assets of at least SGD 500 million will be required to make climate disclosures.

Besides regulatory requirements, ESG reports are increasingly influential in guiding decisions, fostering positive transformations, mitigating avoidable risks, and enhancing trust and transparency. In this article, we explore the basics of ESG reporting, its importance, different frameworks, and best practices for successful implementation.

What is ESG?

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) serves as a framework extensively employed to assess the sustainability and ethical footprint of a company’s operations and policies. It includes criteria that investors, stakeholders, and organisations examine when evaluating and disclosing a company’s non-financial performance. ESG elements offer a comprehensive perspective for assessing companies, focusing on their environmental impact, social contributions, and governance standards within the community.

Understanding ESG Reporting in Singapore

ESG reporting involves transparently sharing standardised details about a company’s sustainability initiatives, objectives, and advancements to underscore its dedication to ethical business conduct. This enables stakeholders to understand the extent of a company’s sustainability efforts.

Operating within the ESG framework, sustainability reporting enables companies to highlight their endeavours in tackling environmental issues, fostering social accountability, and instating effective governance measures. It serves as a channel for companies to communicate their sustainability strategies, objectives, and achievements to investors, clientele, workforce, and the broader community.

Understanding ESG Reporting in Singapore

Distinguishing ESG from Sustainability Reporting in Singapore

Although ESG and sustainability share overarching objectives, they diverge in their reporting approaches.

ESG reporting entails a set of criteria used by investors, stakeholders, and organisations to assess a company’s non-financial performance. It evaluates a company’s environmental, social, and governance practices and their implications for long-term sustainability and risk management. Factors such as climate change initiatives, employee relations, board composition, executive compensation, and risk mitigation strategies are examined.

On the other hand, sustainability reporting takes a comprehensive approach, considering the long-term sustainability of the planet, society, and economy. It aims to meet current needs while ensuring future generations can meet their own. This involves evaluating businesses’ impacts on the environment and implementing strategies to enhance resilience, resource efficiency, and social progress.

Significance of ESG Reporting in Singapore

Prioritising ESG reporting holds significance for organisations in Singapore, as it can enhance corporate reputation and help mitigate potential risks. In 2016, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) introduced the Sustainability Reporting Guide, making it mandatory for all listed companies to disclose their sustainability practices on a ‘comply or explain’ basis.

Environmental Sustainability Overview in Singapore
Singapore prioritises environmental sustainability with a range of initiatives aimed at mitigating environmental impact and promoting conservation efforts. Organisations are urged to reduce their environmental footprint in daily operations by cutting down on carbon emissions, preserving natural habitats, and conserving water resources. These actions align with Singapore’s national sustainability goals and contribute to efforts in combating climate change.
Social Responsibility in Singapore
In Singapore, social responsibility include initiatives such as promoting fair labour practices, fostering diversity and inclusion in employment practices, and ensuring ethical supply chain management. ESG reporting may include the company’s strategies for employee well-being, community outreach programs, and adherence to human rights principles. These demonstrate the company’s commitment to fostering a socially conscious and inclusive business environment.
Regulatory Governance in Singapore
The regulatory framework in Singapore is evolving to prioritise ESG reporting. Examples include the Singapore Exchange (SGX) Listing Rules and the Environmental Protection and Management Act. These regulations urge organisations to disclose their ESG performance. The SGX Listing Rules require listed companies to disclose material ESG risks and their management strategies. Additionally, the Environmental Protection and Management Act sets standards for environmental compliance. By adhering to these regulations and adopting ESG reporting, organisations in Singapore can ensure legal compliance, mitigate reputation-related risks, and showcase strong governance practices.
Common ESG Reporting Frameworks in Singapore

Common ESG Reporting Frameworks in Singapore

Industries in Singapore have increasingly adopted diverse ESG frameworks in recent years. These are some of the prevalent reporting frameworks.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Singapore

GRI is a globally acknowledged reporting framework that offers guidelines for organisations to report their economic, environmental, and social impacts. It provides a comprehensive range of indicators and metrics enabling organisations to gauge and disclose their ESG performance. In Singapore, many companies leverage the GRI framework to compile their sustainability reports, enhancing their credibility and enabling comparisons. 

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) in Singapore

Another notable framework is SASB, which offers industry-specific guidelines for reporting financially significant ESG information. The SASB standards are customised to each sector, concentrating on the ESG matters most important to them. By following SASB standards, organisations in Singapore can customise their ESG reporting to suit their industry’s requirements and fulfil the expectations of investors and stakeholders.

Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in Singapore

The TCFD framework has garnered attention in Singapore as well. It provides a framework for organisations to evaluate and reveal climate-related risks and opportunities. It prompts companies to disclose details concerning governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets on climate change. Employing ESG reporting in this manner allows organisations to showcase their readiness for climate risks and their efforts to transition toward a low-carbon economy.

The benefits of a robust ESG strategy

Effective Approaches for ESG Reporting in Singapore

In ESG reporting, it’s crucial to adhere to certain principles when sharing insights with stakeholders.

Materiality Assessment
Identify, analyse, and report pertinent ESG issues that align with the company’s industry, business model, and stakeholder interests. Conduct thorough due diligence during data collection to ensure the accuracy of your reporting.
Clear and Transparent Reporting
Deliver transparent and concise ESG disclosures that stakeholders can easily access. Opt for standardised frameworks like the GRI, SASB or TCFD to ensure consistency and comparability of reports across industries.
Stakeholder Engagement
Engage with stakeholders to understand their expectations and concerns regarding ESG matters. Regularly communicate and solicit feedback from investors, employees, customers, local communities, and other important stakeholders to address their interests effectively.
Integration with Governance and Business Strategy
Integrate ESG considerations into the organisation’s governance framework and decision-making processes. Ensure that the board of directors and executive leadership prioritise and oversee ESG issues, integrating them into strategic planning and risk management initiatives.

How Can BoardRoom Assist You with ESG Reporting and SME Grants?

Navigating the complexities of ESG reporting demands precise data collection, reporting, and analysis. BoardRoom’s ESG Access offers a comprehensive software solution tailored to simplify sustainability reporting for companies in Singapore.

ESG Access presents an array of tools that streamline data requests, response collection, and evidence gathering, ensuring seamless access and collaboration to essential information. The software incorporates functionalities for reviewing, validating, and auditing, empowering stakeholders to contribute, review, and endorse reporting timelines, all within a unified platform. Entity reporting allows you to easily organise users into groups (entities) and control/assign ESG metrics specific to each group, so you can improve decision making, identify growth opportunities and manage group risks. Additionally, it allows you to craft and personalise your sustainability reporting to align with the specific requirements of your stakeholders.

SMEs in Singapore can leverage the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG)  to offset costs associated with ESG services provided by BoardRoom. This grant enhances accessibility and affordability for SMEs seeking to improve their sustainability practices while complying with ESG reporting standards. 

Get a free 7-day trial on our ESG Access reporting software now.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:

Tina Thomas_profile

Tina Thomas

Head of Environmental, Social and Governance

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

Related Business Insights

The Importance of Due Diligence in ESG

The Importance of Due Diligence in ESG

The Importance of Due Diligence in ESG

In today’s business landscape, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations are gaining importance among investors and consumers in Singapore. Conducting due diligence in ESG is essential for informed decision-making, fostering sustainable practices, and enhancing transparency and trust. Explore the significance of ESG due diligence and its impact on corporate reputation, financial outcomes, and capital access. Gain valuable insights into ESG principles, the due diligence process, and the common challenges encountered by organisations in Singapore.

What is ESG?

ESG, which stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance, represents a comprehensive evaluation framework for assessing a company’s performance across these three dimensions:

Examining the environmental aspect involves assessing how a company’s operations and products impact the environment, including considerations like carbon emissions, waste management strategies, and resource consumption.
The social dimension of ESG evaluates the company’s influence on its employees, customers, and the local community. This entails fair treatment and diversity among employees, customer well-being and satisfaction, and active participation in community development.
Governance within ESG includes scrutinising the leadership, policies, and transparency within the company to maintain compliance with regulations, industry best practices and corporate policies. This involves factors such as board composition and diversity, executive remuneration practices, and adherence to ethical business standards.

What is Due Diligence in ESG?

Due diligence in ESG entails a comprehensive investigation and assessment of a company’s strategies and policies in these domains. This includes scrutinising the company’s impact on the environment, society, and stakeholders, along with its governance and ethical framework.

In the process of ESG due diligence, investors and businesses in Singapore analyse various aspects, including the company’s environmental footprint, waste management strategies, treatment and diversity of employees, customer safety and satisfaction, community involvement, board composition, executive compensation structure, and adherence to ethical business norms. Through this thorough examination, stakeholders determine whether the company aligns with established ESG standards and principles.

What Are the Steps in Navigating Due Diligence for ESG in Singapore?

Conducting due diligence for ESG purposes involves a structured process comprising five key steps:

Defining Objectives and Criteria

Clearly outline the priorities and criteria crucial to your organisation, covering environmental impact, social responsibility, and corporate governance. These benchmarks will shape your investigative direction.

Gathering ESG Information

Acquire comprehensive data on ESG performance, such as environmental footprint, labour standards, board diversity, and disclosure practices. Utilise diverse sources such as public disclosures, corporate reports, and third-party assessments for a well-rounded evaluation.

Information Processing

Analyse the collected data and consider the potential risks and implications associated with ESG practices.

Stakeholder Engagement

Foster direct engagement with stakeholders to gain deeper insights into the company’s operations and policies. This interactive process facilitates inquiries and addresses concerns effectively.

Evaluation and Documentation

Evaluate the company’s ESG practices based on industry standards and regulatory mandates. Document your findings and disseminate them to relevant stakeholders, including investors and shareholders. By sharing insights, you foster transparency, accountability and facilitate potential positive transformations within the organisation.

Due diligence

Why Is Due Diligence Important in ESG?

1. Making Informed Choices and Mitigating Risks

Thoroughly examining a company’s environmental, social, and governance practices is essential for aligning with ESG standards and principles. This approach enables stakeholders to make decisions that embrace not only financial gains but also the company’s sustainability and ethical footprint. Identifying potential environmental, social, or governance concerns empowers investors and businesses to make informed and prudent choices, preventing potential financial and reputation-related risks.

2. Driving Positive Transformation

By meticulously documenting findings, stakeholders can hold companies accountable for their impact on the environment, society, and governance. This accountability encourages companies to adopt more sustainable and ethical approaches. This accelerates a ripple effect where companies strive to enhance their ESG standings, fostering a more sustainable and ethical business environment.

3. Fostering Trust and Transparency

By disseminating findings to relevant stakeholders, including investors, shareholders, and the company itself, there’s enhanced transparency and accountability regarding ESG practices. This promotes trust among stakeholders and bolsters the company’s reputation as a responsible corporate citizen.

4. Ensuring Regulatory Adherence

In Singapore, companies are bound by various laws and regulations, such as the Environmental Protection and Management Act and the Companies Act, which mandate transparency and disclosure of ESG practices. Non-compliance can lead to legal consequences and tarnished reputations for companies.

Singapore due diligence process

Common ESG Due Diligence Challenges in Singapore

While conducting due diligence for ESG is imperative for businesses, several challenges may arise during the process:

Limited or Inconsistent Data Availability
Obtaining reliable and consistent data poses a significant challenge in ESG due diligence. Many companies either do not disclose their ESG practices or adopt varying reporting methodologies, complicating the task of gathering accurate and comprehensive information.
Lack of Standardisation
Despite the increasing significance of ESG, the industry lacks standardisation. This absence of uniform criteria or metrics makes it difficult to compare and assess companies’ ESG practices effectively.
Time and Resource Intensiveness
Thorough ESG due diligence demands substantial time and resources. It entails extensive research, data gathering, and analysis, which can strain companies with limited resources.
Subjectivity and Bias
Evaluating a company’s practices and policies in ESG due diligence is naturally subjective and susceptible to bias. Divergent stakeholder priorities and values often hinder reaching an agreement on a company’s ESG performance.
Difficulty in Predicting Future Performance
ESG due diligence primarily focuses on a company’s current practices, making it challenging to forecast its future performance accurately. This poses a considerable challenge for investors seeking long-term investments based on ESG performance indicators.
Lack of Expertise
Effective ESG due diligence necessitates expertise across diverse fields, including environmental science, social impact, and corporate governance. Many companies may lack the necessary in-house expertise, complicating the execution of comprehensive due diligence processes.
Challenges faced in ESG due diligence

How BoardRoom Supports ESG Due Diligence in Singapore with SME Grant Assistance

Conducting ESG due diligence presents challenges, especially in precise data collection, reporting, and analysis. BoardRoom’s team of experienced ESG professionals have the expertise in multiple APAC jurisdictions to help you help you develop and implement a tailor-made ESG strategy for your business, supporting ongoing sustainability and profitability as a result.

Our ESG advisory service includes helping you identify relevant ESG risks and opportunities, setting ESG targets, creating sustainability reports, conducting a materiality assessment, drafting a sustainability policy for your company and ESG due diligence.
Contact us for a consultation now.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:

Tina Thomas_profile

Tina Thomas

Head of Environmental, Social and Governance

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

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Environmental, social, governance: why it’s essential for SMEs

Environmental, social, governance why it’s essential for SMEs Banner

Environmental, social, governance: why it’s essential for SMEs

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are taking centre stage in Singapore’s business landscape, propelled by a global push towards climate change mitigation, with governments worldwide committing to net-zero targets. This shift has placed increased pressure on businesses to adopt responsible practices, emphasising social equity, transparency and accountability. Furthermore, evolving regulations aimed at enhancing safety and legitimacy within the business environment underscore the critical importance of ESG engagement for companies of all sizes.

It’s not just large corporations that are expected to embed ESG principles in their business operations. In Singapore, small and medium-sized enterprises contribute to 48 per cent of Singapore’s GDP and employ 71 per cent of the workforce, highlighting the role SMEs have in driving sustainable and ethical business practices that contribute positively to the overall health of the economy. As such, SME owners and business leaders are pivotal in shaping a more sustainable, equitable and responsible business future.

In this article, we explore what environmental, social and governance is and why implementing robust ESG practices and processes is not just critical but a strategic advantage for SMEs. We also uncover related opportunities for organisations and provide insights on where business owners and leaders can find the necessary support to implement these ESG practices and policies.

Understanding environmental, social and governance and its relevance to SMEs

Environmental, social and governance is a set of practices adopted by companies to guide how they should conduct business ethically and sustainably. At a broad level, ESG covers the following elements:

  • Environmental responsibility focuses on a company’s impact on nature. For example, a small enterprise could adopt energy-efficient operations, reducing both environmental impact and operational costs.
  • Social accountability measures how a company manages relationships with employees, communities and suppliers. For SMEs, this could involve creating inclusive workplace policies, engaging in community development projects or ensuring fair trade practices with suppliers.
  • Governance concerns practices around a company’s leadership, ethics and transparency. Good governance in SMEs could include developing transparent reporting systems to build stakeholder trust.

Recognising that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to integrating ESG practices into business strategy and operations is crucial, as implementation will vary significantly across industries. For example, professional services firms may find greater leverage and opportunities for impact within social and governance, while a consumer goods manufacturer may prioritise environmental and social aspects more heavily.

Why do ESG and sustainability matter?

ESG is a response to a range of concerns, including climate change, rising social inequality and the changing nature of economies.

Investors and stakeholders are increasingly taking ESG into account in their decision-making. Society, customers and clients also expect the companies they interact with to be environmentally and socially responsible. Companies that have robust ESG strategies to manage risks can meet these expectations and compete successfully and strongly in the market.

In Singapore, implementing robust ESG practices offers SMEs the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition, attracting more investment, appealing to a larger customer base and ensuring long-term success.

For SMEs eyeing European markets, showcasing solid ESG practices is vital. Europe’s strict corporate social responsibility and sustainability regulations dictate that businesses adopt and visibly demonstrate their ESG commitment.

The Singapore Stock Exchange weighs in

In compliance with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) requires all issuers, including the many SMEs listed, to incorporate climate-related reporting in their sustainability reports. This requirement means companies will have to report on their social and environmental impacts and performance.

The date from which companies have to comply with this mandatory reporting depends on the relevant industry. For example, those in financial services, energy and agriculture are required to report under the TCFD framework from the financial year 2023. Building and transport industries will be required to report from 2024.

The Singapore Stock Exchange weighs in

Challenges and opportunities of ESG adoption

There’s no doubt that ESG is a priority for growing businesses and SMEs of all sizes, but implementing new policies and procedures into business operations can also increase pressure on owners, managers and staff. For small businesses particularly, implementing sustainability practices can be expensive. Busy small business owners, absorbed in the day-to-day running of their business, may not have the time to gain the knowledge needed to implement new practices effectively and give their employees the skills they need to focus on ESG issues.

Although ESG strategies can potentially yield long-term financial benefits, the immediate challenge for many SMEs lies in maintaining profitability in the short term. Balancing ESG objectives with business growth can be daunting, especially when faced with limited access to technical know-how, which stops many SMEs from even trying.

However, integrating ESG into everyday business practices does not have to be overwhelming. Beginning with small, manageable actions can set the foundation and lead to effective long-term change.

Some examples include:

  • Adopting energy-efficient practices, starting with something as simple as switching to energy-efficient light bulbs.
  • Seeking financial support from government bodies and initiatives designed to support businesses implementing ESG practices.
  • Forming partnerships with multinational companies, other SMEs and non-profit organisations to increase ESG knowledge and understanding through collaborative forums.
  • Engaging with a service provider experienced in facilitating ESG integration, to guide and support your business along this path.

Tina Thomas, Head of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) at BoardRoom Group, highlighted, “Small and medium-sized enterprises often lack the comprehensive knowledge required for initiating and executing effective ESG strategies. Additionally, they may encounter significant resource limitations. Nevertheless, this is precisely the juncture at which our expertise becomes invaluable. The ESG team at BoardRoom is adept at managing these processes efficiently and in a cost-effective manner, offering a seamless solution for businesses aiming to enhance their sustainability practices.”

The benefits of a robust ESG strategy

The benefits of a robust ESG strategy

These challenges shouldn’t stop SMEs from exploring the benefits of ESG adoption for cost savings, improved efficiency and risk reduction.

Here, we take a look at some of the benefits:

  • increased cost savings from ESG policies, such as a reduction in water and energy usage;
  • ESG risks and opportunities can be easily identified if supply chain processes are streamlined;
  • reduction in waste and the costs associated with waste management;
  • reduction in the risk of regulatory fines due to non-compliance;
  • an increase in shareholder value and attracting increased investment;
  • appealing to a broader range of potential customers;
  • an increase in employee morale, efficiency and health and safety outcomes as a result of prioritising employee wellbeing;
  • an ability to attract and retain talent and build a stronger employee brand;
  • access to new markets;
  • access to tax incentives and government grants; and
  • differentiation, which can offer many SMEs a competitive advantage.

Clients, customers, investors and regulators now expect businesses of all sizes to reduce their harmful impacts on the environment and people while increasing their resilience to the effects of climate change.

SMEs with ESG cost-saving and other strategies in place that align with their business purpose are much better placed to adapt and meet the challenges of the future while capitalising on opportunities today.

Practical steps towards ESG integration

Practical steps towards ESG integration

Integrating ESG into business practices, strategies and goals can be straightforward and varied based on the individual business. A business could initially take several broad steps; however, it’s crucial to define your company’s ESG goals from the outset clearly. This involves engaging stakeholders and establishing regular monitoring to identify areas for improvement.

Tina adds that a good way to start weaving ESG into day-to-day operations is by collecting and analysing data on the performance of the business. She says, “Step one is making sure there’s a process in place where you collect data on a regular basis, perhaps quarterly. Then, assess the data to expose trends, and set ESG KPIs against the data.”

Other key steps to consider include the following:

Adopting more environmentally friendly practices
Switching to renewable and more energy-efficient sources, reducing waste and implementing robust recycling programs. For instance, your business could replace conventional lighting with LED bulbs to reduce energy consumption.
Encouraging a culture of fairness, inclusion and diversity
Implementing diversity training and adopting equal opportunity hiring practices is a step towards creating a workplace culture that values diversity and fairness.
Innovating through technology
Being open to innovation and leveraging available technology to streamline processes, reduce waste and save costs. A simple example could be switching to cloud-based software to reduce paper usage and streamline operations.
Investing in employee development
Offering employee skills training and wellbeing programs such as mental health support services and professional development workshops.
Community engagement
Engaging with and supporting community groups and charities through staff volunteer initiatives or partnerships.
Establishing ethical policies
Creating well-defined policies and procedures such as a supplier code of conduct and data protection and privacy policies as standard.
Maintaining transparency
Keep business operations transparent. Your business could achieve this by publishing regular sustainability reports and ensuring clear communication with investors and stakeholders.
Managing ESG risks
Introducing organisational and managerial frameworks that identify and manage ESG risks, such as conducting regular environmental audits or ethical supply chain assessments.
Aligning with suppliers
Partner with suppliers who share your business’ goals and ESG values, like sourcing materials from sustainable providers.
Government support and partnerships
Take advantage of government support and incentives for sustainable practices and collaborate with skilled and knowledgeable consultants for ESG transition strategies.

Where to find support

The Government of Singapore offers a range of incentives and grants to help SMEs adopt ESG best practices. If you’re looking for ESG grants in Singapore or need guidance on where to start, here are some helpful resources:

  • Enterprise Singapore’s Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) helps SMEs develop projects to upgrade and innovate their businesses, explore opportunities for growth and expand internationally. Additionally, SMEs can engage with a Registered Management Consultant like Tina for support with integrating sustainability into their business.
  • The Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP) supports companies in Singapore to learn about and adopt sustainable, green practices.
  • The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) gives SMEs a financial boost to adopt technical solutions to improve their productivity.
  • The Energy Efficiency Fund consists of five grants to support businesses in improving energy efficiency in their industrial facilities.
Discover the opportunities of ESG today

Discover the opportunities of ESG today

There’s no doubt that environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are becoming increasingly important for Singapore’s businesses to address. SMEs have a large role to play, and if they don’t already have ESG policies and practices in place, there is mounting pressure to do so.

Implementing ESG offers more than compliance for SMEs. It unlocks innovation, sustainability, and market leadership by fostering long-term business resilience and distinguishing your brand in today’s eco-conscious market. With Singapore’s supportive incentives and leveraging the expertise of business consultants, SMEs can seamlessly integrate ESG now more than ever before.

With a dedicated team of experienced ESG consultants in Singapore, BoardRoom can help your business maximise its positive impact and make the most of opportunities with ESG Access. BoardRoom also offers a range of other services, including company incorporation and corporate secretarial. Contact us to find out more today.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:

Tina Thomas_profile

Tina Thomas

Head of Environmental, Social and Governance

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

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The power of BPO in facilitating overseas business growth

The power of BPO in facilitating overseas business growth

The power of BPO in facilitating overseas business growth

Expanding a business overseas is a critical growth goal for many organisations. The appeal of new markets is enticing, but the challenges of moving into offshore territories can be overwhelming.

Understanding and complying with diverse, unfamiliar legal frameworks, tax structures and regulatory compliance standards in foreign territories is a complex process, and non-compliance can result in far-reaching consequences for any business. For owners, entrepreneurs and leaders keen to pursue overseas opportunities but needing an in-depth understanding of local issues, specialist business process outsourcing (BPO) services can be essential to safe and successful expansion.

Through a BPO partner, businesses gain insights into local compliance and strategic support in navigating the intricate process of establishing and growing your presence in new markets.

In this article, we explore what a BPO provider is, what they do for their clients, and how BPO can help clients navigate regulatory complexities when considering expansion into Asia.

What is BPO? Your key to successful international expansion

Running a business, especially one that is expanding globally, is complex and can be fraught with compliance risks. Missteps in unfamiliar areas can lead to significant consequences, demanding careful navigation, knowledge and skills. That is where business process outsourcing (BPO) comes in. BPO occurs when a business outsources critical backend functions to external entities.

However, it’s important to recognise that certain functions will come with an increased need to find a provider that specialises in regulatory compliance.

Some of these functions are:

When you engage an expert BPO service provider with specialised skills in regulatory compliance to outsource these critical functions to, your staff can concentrate on your business’s core competencies. By working with an expert provider and also being aware of how each function interplays with your company’s broader operations and expansion goals, risk can be mitigated, ensuring the integrity and continuity of your core business activities.

There are several fundamental advantages of partnering with a compliance focused BPO provider:

Access to specialised skills and local knowledge that may not be readily available within your organisation. This expertise ensures accuracy in compliance and allows easier navigation of in-country requirements and valuable insights into local markets.
Efficiently scale operations especially when expanding internationally, by tapping into vast pools of experienced professionals through the services provided.
Gain access to advanced technologies compliant with regulations, allowing optimisation of internal processes, guaranteeing streamlined operations, while mitigating the risk of non-compliance.
Benefit from a commitment to adapt to changing regulations while maintaining stringent compliance standards, mitigating risks, and ensuring continuous agility in navigating a dynamic regulatory environment.
Your key to successful international expansion

Navigating your expansion into Asia

Asia’s robust economic growth and diverse markets make it an increasingly attractive destination for business expansion. In this rapidly growing business environment, understanding the key factors crucial for successful business expansion is pivotal for tapping into the region’s unique opportunities.

Here are four important factors to look out for in selecting your BPO provider:

The complexity of local regulations

Business owners entering new markets in Asia must understand that the regulatory landscape in the region has evolved and continues to evolve rapidly. Hugo Walkinshaw, Group Chief Executive Officer of BoardRoom, has this advice for foreign investors entering Asia. “There’s some commonality among Commonwealth countries, but you cannot assume if you have a footprint in one country, you can easily take that elsewhere. We advise businesses to be aware that Asia’s not one place.”

Just as every country has a unique culture, language, time zone and climate, so too are its regulatory framework, laws, processes and ESG standards. Therefore, it is recommended you get advice from a BPO provider who has the experience in regulatory compliance and deep relationships with the regulators in the country you are planning to enter.

Owners and business leaders who fail to consider the complex regulations are putting their personal and business reputations at risk.

Compliance focused BPO provider

Leveraging technology in an evolving regulatory landscape

Technology is changing how businesses operate, and the regulations that govern technology are also evolving rapidly. This complexity is magnified in Asia due to the diverse legal and technological landscapes across different countries.

An example is data security, which has become increasingly complex in a rapidly-digitised world where data is valuable, and automation is commonplace. Businesses have a duty of care to themselves, their staff and their customers to protect data and information systems. A service provider with sound security systems in place is an essential layer of protection to your business, ensuring compliance with local data protection laws. This is especially crucial for functions like payroll, where sensitive employee data must be handled with care and accuracy across different legal frameworks.

Partnering with a compliance-focused service provider who understands these regulations and leverages the latest technology provides assurance that compliance requirements are consistently met.

Geopolitical and economic concerns

The Y2K scare, the 1997 Asian crisis, the 2007-08 Global Financial Crisis and COVID-19 – the past two decades have been punctuated by massive economic uncertainty and geopolitical volatility. These factors make for an increasingly complex environment for businesses. However, Hugo says economic opportunities in the region are still compelling.

A corporate services provider that offers an integrated suite of services across multiple countries can leverage regional expertise and serve as a single point of contact for businesses moving into Asia. Furthermore, businesses ought to seek a seasoned provider with a appropriate market presence that is aligned with your expansion goals. These providers will have first-hand experience navigating legislative changes and are better positioned to address the needs of businesses amidst volatile geopolitical and economic uncertainty.

Ensuring the right coverage

When choosing a BPO provider, it is important to understand their size and scale. What services do they provide, and which countries do they operate in?

Businesses entering Asia will find many providers that Hugo calls “single-service, single-country local players”. But these might not offer a comprehensive enough service for your business. Choosing a provider that operates in several countries with a range of services is often a better option, allowing your business to enter whichever country you decide to expand into.

Furthermore, a service provider with regional expertise and integrated services like corporate secretarial and tax advisory can also help optimise your business’s tax payouts. This starts at the incorporation stage with the advice on the most advantageous business structure. Different business structures have varying tax implications, and a knowledgeable service provider can navigate these intricacies to ensure that your business benefits from tax efficiency while remaining compliant.

Leveraging technology in an evolving regulatory landscape

BoardRoom: your compliance focused BPO partner

Successfully establishing a business in Asia requires a deep understanding of its laws and regulatory structures. Regulatory compliance-focused BPO service providers equipped with this expertise offer invaluable guidance to help businesses navigate the complexities of regional expansion. They take on the responsibility of a range of business processes, freeing up your time and resources to grow your business.

At BoardRoom, we have the regional expertise to help your business navigate the complex regulatory landscapes and technology integration in various Asian nations.

Our multi-service offering and our years of experience managing cross-border expansion means you get integrated, efficient solutions to help your business succeed:

Contact our team for your expansion needs now!

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ESG in Singapore: A top priority for growing businesses

ESG in Singapore: A top priority for growing businesses

With environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues now top of mind for investors, consumers and communities around the world, businesses are quickly embracing sustainable practices to secure their long-term success.

Many governments are committing to net zero targets in an effort to address climate risk, meaning businesses must now take action to minimise their carbon footprint and help deliver these targets. In Singapore, ESG expectations among stakeholders are prompting businesses to start tracking their emissions to meet demands for transparency and traceability in supply chain management.

Further, climate reporting is now mandatory for public Singapore companies, and the Singapore stock exchange (SGX) has released a list of 27 recommended core ESG metrics for companies to report against. Many forward-thinking private companies are choosing to use these metrics too.

In this article, we speak to Tina Thomas, Head of ESG for BoardRoom, about the key ESG issues impacting decision-making in business today and the top strategies Singaporean companies can use to safeguard their future.

What is ESG risk?

ESG practices should now be ingrained into companies’ operations and risk management plans. According to Tina, listed companies that ignore ESG matters may encounter major regulatory compliance problems (potentially resulting in legal action or loss of their licence to operate) and experience a loss of customers. For private companies, ESG disclosure is not yet mandatory, but it must be part of their long-term strategy. “Customers now have the choice of whether to buy from a sustainable company, so there’s a market risk if companies ignore ESG matters,” she says. Specific ESG risks vary between businesses depending on the nature of their operations.

ESG Risk

Some risks now critical for many businesses include:

1. Environmental risk

Businesses with carbon-intensive operations and products should implement strategies to reduce emissions and save energy.
Waste management
Companies must assess how they manage their waste, whether hazardous or non-hazardous, liquid or solid.
Water management
With water stress on the rise, businesses should consider the water source used in their operations (especially manufacturing businesses) and switch to sustainable procurement methods where possible.

2. Social risk

Issues that can drive business risk include worker rights, gender and racial equality, child labour and environmental effects on people’s health. Companies should also support employee wellbeing and provide valuable training opportunities. This helps attract and retain talent and offers a range of flow-on benefits (e.g., better productivity and efficiency) for improved business outcomes.

3. Governance risk

Good governance is essential for ESG success as it not only guarantees that businesses operate safely and fairly within their respective sectors, but also ensures responsible practices in areas such as borrowing, internal risk management, anti-money laundering (AML), and compliance with relevant acts and regulations. A lack of good governance will not go unnoticed by stakeholders.

What ESG opportunities can I explore?

In addition to mitigating ESG risk, Singaporean businesses can also build their resilience by being first movers in the ESG space and making use of new opportunities the market poses for companies.

“If a company does not understand the ESG landscape, they might miss all the opportunities available,” Tina says. “For example, some companies are introducing plant-based products to capture new clients. Or there may be opportunities for expansion, new technology or market streams.”

From a social perspective, a strong corporate governance framework is crucial for businesses as it empowers them to establish and enforce ethical standards, ensuring fair work conditions and promoting transparency across their supply chains to responsibly monitor and protect the rights of workers. This strategy benefits not only your business but society at large.

ESG opportunities

What are the benefits of sustainable practices?

Sustainable practices can benefit Singaporean companies in various ways, depending on the nature of the business and its industry.

Some prominent practices include:

Adopting a low-carbon business mode
This protects the longevity of carbon-intensive businesses for whom renewable energy poses an existential threat.
Implementing efficiency enhancements
Manufacturing businesses that enhance the efficiency of their machines, operations or workspaces can enjoy cost savings.
Improving working conditions
Good working conditions improve employee morale and productivity.

Initiatives like these have additional benefits, including improved brand reputation, more robust regulatory compliance and reduced policy costs (e.g. carbon tax).

How a diverse workforce promotes social responsibility

In today’s rapidly changing world, the benefits of sustainable practices and diversity and inclusion are more interconnected than ever before. Embracing a diverse workforce and fostering an inclusive environment presents a valuable opportunity for businesses to perform better and be more innovative.

“Without diversity, people think alike and have the same or similar views, so there’s little to no creativity,” Tina explains.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a positive social factor for employees, while it can be a governance strength for board members.

“The SGX emphasises that the boards have to be diverse – this is mainly to champion the idea that having the right mix of individuals with the right education, background and experience level is important for ensuring a business is well run,” Tina says.

Furthermore, embracing D&I helps to create an open workplace culture that is accepting of differences and more adaptable to change in an uncertain world.

How does ESG impact business decisions?

ESG is now shaping business decisions to a significant degree. Whether a company is buying or investing in a business or improving parts of its own group, ESG considerations are now a standard part of commercial and financial due diligence processes.

Primary ESG considerations commonly include:

  • climate change and its potential impacts on the business (e.g. the threat of natural disasters and drought);
  • resource depletion and the limits it may place on resource consumption within a business’ operations;
  • possibilities for emissions reduction and the conservation of resources (like water);
  • the potential to adopt a circular business model that enables reuse and recycling to maximise resource efficiency and minimise waste; and
  • the importance of good corporate governance, a hallmark of well-run companies that builds trust among consumers and investors while reducing compliance risk.

To ensure business decisions consider key ESG factors, leaders should develop a comprehensive ESG strategy and engage with stakeholders to promote open dialogue. “They also need to invest in sustainable business practices and monitor and report on their progress,” Tina says.

ESG Impact

How do I promote strong corporate governance?

An effective way to drive good governance in your organisation is by ensuring senior management and board members take ownership of ESG performance.

“These leaders play a key role in setting the tone from the top in terms of following governance standards and responding to ESG risks and opportunities,” Tina says.

It is also essential for leaders to fully understand ESG, as this will empower them to make strategic decisions around resource management and risk mitigation and successfully lead their business through ESG transformation.

What support is available for ESG in Singapore?

When it comes to proactively responding to ESG risks and opportunities, the assistance of an experienced ESG services provider can be invaluable.

BoardRoom’s ESG Singapore team helps businesses throughout the Asia-Pacific region translate their ESG efforts into valuable competitive advantages, including:

  • a steadier investor base;
  • reduced cost of capital;
  • increased access to financing;
  • higher staff engagement; and
  • stronger customer loyalty.

As a globally minded firm with offices throughout Asia Pacific, we leverage the diversity of our teams to deliver high-quality, carefully tailored ESG solutions.

ESG Support Singapore

BoardRoom’s holistic ESG services

The assistance BoardRoom provides as part of our end-to-end ESG service includes (but is not limited to):

  • undertaking a materiality assessment to identify which ESG issues your company should respond to and report on;
  • conducting a gap analysis to evaluate compliance with stakeholder expectations;
  • gathering valuable ESG data with our innovative, easy-to-use ESG Access platform; and
  • setting data-driven key performance indicators and targets for ESG performance.

We provide full ESG life-cycle management for all types of businesses, from growing SMEs new to ESG to large multinational corporations wanting to take their sustainability practices to the next level.

Wherever you are on your ESG journey, we are ready to assist.

Elevated ESG reporting

Our ESG professionals can also help you enhance your ESG performance in the eyes of key stakeholder groups through robust, efficient sustainability reporting.

Public and private companies alike should adhere to globally recognised frameworks to ensure their sustainability reports meet stakeholder expectations.

Publicly listed companies must now disclose their ESG management in line with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. Many businesses also follow the Global Reporting Initiative Standards in their reporting.

With our guidance, you can confidently use the best ESG frameworks and methodology for your business.

Realise your ESG goals

Contemporary businesses must ensure they are effectively responding to ESG risks and opportunities if they are to thrive within Singapore, Asia and beyond. BoardRoom’s ESG experts can help implement a customised ESG strategy for your organisation, promoting ongoing sustainability and profitability.

We offer a full suite of complementary corporate services in addition to ESG support, including company secretarial, company incorporation, accounting and bookkeeping, payroll, share registry, employee stock option plans, XBRL conversion and filing, tax advisory and filing and international accounting and tax. This means you can easily combine services to ensure your business is fully supported to achieve its expansion goals.

Contact us to find out more about elevating ESG in Singapore.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:


Tina Thomas

Head of Environmental, Social and Governance

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

Related Business Insights

The advantages of meaningful ESG practices and sustainability reporting for businesses in Singapore

Gain a competitive advantage through meaningful sustainability reporting Banner

The advantages of meaningful ESG practices and sustainability reporting for businesses in Singapore

Singapore recently raised its national climate target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 – earlier than previously committed. In the announcement, the National Climate Change Secretariat urged the region’s public and private sectors to play their part in shaping a low-carbon future.

The change comes as expectations for genuine environmental, social, and governance (ESG) action and corporate social responsibility continue to grow throughout the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide.

In this article, we speak to Tina Thomas, Head of ESG for BoardRoom, about how businesses in Singapore can enhance their ESG performance in the eyes of stakeholders through high-quality sustainability reporting and by using ESG reporting frameworks.

The importance of sustainability reporting in Singapore

High expectations for responsible corporate practice in Singapore mean businesses are under pressure to demonstrate their commitment to ESG action. Companies can achieve this by publicly disclosing information about the sustainability outcomes achieved.

Quality sustainability reporting helps private and public businesses to:

Attract investment

According to Enterprise Singapore, ESG must be prioritised to attain investments, as investors are now looking to ‘green’ their portfolios.

“Investors want to know more about the risk profile of the companies they invest in,” explains Tina.

ESG reporting allows you to demonstrate the strategies your business is using to respond to the challenges and opportunities affecting its sustainability – and the scope is broader than sustainability alone. Investors want to see how businesses operate with integrity and good social responsibility in accordance with reporting frameworks. For example, local community giving initiatives and ethical decision-making all play a role in shaping a low-carbon future. As a result, investors can have greater confidence in your potential for long-term value creation.

Achieve robust regulatory compliance

In an effort to support a sustainable economy and bring companies in line with global baseline reporting standards, Singapore’s regulatory system is escalating its requirements for ESG reporting. Businesses are under mounting pressure to disclose specific data that relates to the climate risks and opportunities most material (relevant) to them.

“Regulators want companies to start pricing in the cost of externalities, including environmental pollution and biodiversity impacts,” says Tina.

The law already requires some public-listed companies to produce sustainability reports. However, all Singaporean companies – public or private – can use sustainability reporting as a tool to elevate their reputation and protect their operational longevity.

Improve brand value

In a 2022 PWC survey, 32% of Singaporean consumers said they often or always consider governance factors when making purchasing decisions. 31% say the same about social factors. Forward-thinking businesses are tapping into this desire for responsible corporate practice by increasing the visibility of their ESG initiatives.

“ESG has become a differentiator for businesses by adding to their brand value,” Tina says.

Businesses should also recognise the potential for ESG reporting to build trust with employees, investors and business partners.

“It can help you attract the right talent and customers, and tap into new market growth opportunities arising with the evolving ESG trend,” Tina adds.

ESG Brand Value

How do I showcase my ESG efforts?

Any company can publish a statement about its commitment to ESG action. However, without hard data to back up its claims, it is unlikely to earn stakeholder trust.

Key methods to broadcast the outcomes of your sustainability efforts include:

Meeting or exceeding any regulatory reporting requirements or ESG frameworks that apply to your business (e.g. publishing your sustainability report in your annual report)
Adding a sustainability statement to your website, ensuring it describes all the processes and initiatives you have in place
Publishing case studies about ESG initiatives or projects you have actioned, with details provided about the targets you achieved against specific sustainability metrics

Keep in mind that stakeholders, who are on alert for greenwashing, will heavily scrutinise your public ESG disclosures. To illustrate your integrity, demonstrate how your ESG efforts align with your company’s core values using evidence.

What are the mandatory disclosures for ESG in Singapore?

By 2025, public-listed companies in some major industries will be required by law to disclose their ESG management in line with recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Listed companies outside the nominated industries will also be required to comply unless they can reasonably explain why they have taken an alternative course of action.

To provide a starting point for this transition, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) has proposed a list of core ESG metrics companies can use for their reporting.

“The core metrics are quantitative and applicable to most listed companies across various industries,” says Tina.

Examples of these metrics include:

Emissions, water management and waste generation
Gender diversity, employment, development and training, and workplace safety and health
Composition management, diversity, ethical behaviour, certifications and assurance

While the core metrics offer commonality and consistency in what companies report, be aware that it is your responsibility to disclose the information most relevant to your business.

Whilst ESG disclosures are not yet required for private companies in Singapore, ESG reporting must be a business priority if your company wants to remain competitive and be successful. ESG frameworks come in various forms, so it’s important to know what is relevant to your business.

Which ESG reporting framework should I use?

Whether you are a publicly listed or private company, to ensure your sustainability report carries weight in an increasingly global marketplace, we recommend adhering to globally recognised frameworks such as:

As a publicly listed company, you must follow SGX guidelines first and foremost; however, some industries require more robust additional reporting. For privately listed companies that don’t need to follow the standards set by SGX, you may choose based on your industry, what your competitors are using, or emerging regulations.

Do I need to conduct a materiality assessment?

Impactful ESG action starts with understanding what matters to your business and your stakeholders, and where you can make the most difference. The need for familiarity with these factors makes conducting a materiality assessment critical.

“A materiality assessment allows businesses to identify the key ESG metrics and factors relevant to them and present a risk or opportunity for the businesses,” explains Tina.

“From there, they can decide what the next steps should be in terms of how they want to respond.”

Materiality Assessment

What are the common challenges of ESG reporting, standards, and frameworks?

The main sustainability reporting challenges for businesses in Singapore include:

1. Choosing disclosure topics

According to Tina, companies often need clarification on which ESG data to include in their reports.

“ESG reporting encompasses a big list of factors,” she says. “Depending on which framework you look at, there could be as many as a hundred topics you can disclose against.”

The best framework for you will come down to various factors, such as your listing status, stakeholder expectations, size, industry, and geographical presence. After selecting your framework, conducting a materiality assessment will help identify which disclosure topics are most important for your business. Many Singaporean and multinational businesses engage with expert ESG reporting services for guidance on this matter.

2. Collecting solid, timely data

Manual tracking of sustainability efforts can be time-consuming and expensive, and the resulting data often lacks accuracy, consistency and depth.

“ESG data – especially on environmental risks and impacts – can be very difficult to collect because it may fall outside the company’s immediate control,” Tina says. “It may also sit with different people, which makes collecting and combining the data in one place a slow, arduous task.”

For many businesses, the solution lies in modernising the data collection process.

“Technology can automate some of the processes around data management and also help streamline the process,” Tina adds.

3. Setting relevant targets

Even if you have collected good data on your ESG efforts, you may be unsure how to measure sustainability performance in a meaningful way.

An ESG services provider will have a thorough understanding of ESG performance benchmarking in your industry and across the SGX, which means they can help you take steps to increase the effectiveness of your initiatives.

They can recommend achievable yet compelling ESG targets to pursue according to relevant reporting frameworks and standards such as GRI, SASB, and so on.

Relevant Targets

Can I elevate my brand image through sustainability reporting?

The best way to ensure that your sustainability reporting bolsters your reputation is by demonstrating how your ESG efforts create real change for local communities, whether your business is based in Singapore or elsewhere in the world.

“Focus on communicating the positive impact you are having within your sphere of control,” Tina says. “This will eventually help to improve your reputation, brand image and consumer engagement.”

For powerful reporting, you can also:

    Link ESG achievements back to your core brand values and the ESG issues your business is most passionate about
    Use macro indicators like the UN Sustainable Development Goals to measure the change you are stimulating on a micro level

    Enhance your sustainability reporting with BoardRoom Singapore

    BoardRoom’s ESG Access platform builds greater value into your sustainability reporting by automating your data collection, report production, and stakeholder engagement processes. Its evidence-based approach means you and your stakeholders can expect higher returns on investment in sustainability initiatives.

    With BoardRoom’s holistic approach to ESG, our services extend beyond reporting to advisory and assurance. From conducting a materiality assessment to identify which ESG issues and frameworks relate to your organisation to ensuring supply chain compliance with socially responsible business practices, we help transform your organisation into a more socially accepted, environmentally sustainable business with better risk management.

    Please contact our team in Singapore to find out more about our sustainability reporting services.

    Contact BoardRoom for more information:


    Tina Thomas

    Head of Environmental, Social and Governance

    E: [email protected]

    T: +65 6536 5355

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